<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Yorkshire Life today click here

Lisa Byrne - nowhere beats Yorkshire for spooks and ghouls

PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 October 2017

Lisa Byrne

Lisa Byrne

Archant

Our columnist shares some spooky stories of ghostly goings on around York

Hallway Hallway

Late autumn and early winter is my favourite time of the year. I love watching the leaves turn a bright, fiery red before falling into mounds of burnt amber on the ground. The weather becomes more unpredictable, it’s mandatory to devour comfort food and there’s nothing better than gazing at a crackling fire, huddled under a blanket while the wind howls outside. But my most adored part of this sprint towards Christmas is the melodramatic festival of Halloween, followed by our glorious Yorkshire landscape being set aglow by raging bonfires on the fifth of November.

Readers of this column will know I’m rather obsessed with the supernatural – having been brought up in York, Europe’s most haunted city, it’s difficult not to be – and I have previously written about what it was like living in a very spooky house on the outskirts of the city.

However, one of my most terrifying experiences with ‘the other world’ took place in a boutique Georgian hotel called The Rookery in London’s ancient Clerkenwell, beside Smithfield, an area notorious for religious burnings during the Reformation. I spent a night there after becoming engaged to my husband David at the nearby St Bride’s Church and we were delighted to have been given a beautiful, historic room with an ornate oak four poster bed surrounded by rather stern portraits of long deceased former occupants of the house.

After supper we went to bed and slept well until 2am, when I awoke lying on my right hand side to feel someone, reeking of pipe tobacco, breathing heavily into my face. Too terrified to open my eyes I whispered to David that someone was in our room. He immediately replied that he had been awake for ages listening to this ‘person’ breathe and wander around. We listened to the spirit move from one end of the bed to the other, feeling him staring down on us for what seemed like an eternity, until we finally heard his footsteps shuffle down the three steps that led from the bedroom into the bathroom and then disappear.

Ghost in the salt mine Ghost in the salt mine

Next morning, David thanked the concierge for our stay, but admitted we’d had a troubled night as there appeared to be a ghostly spirit in our room. The concierge became very agitated, saying that the last couple to stay in our room had left after a horrendous incident. While putting on her make-up in the bathroom mirror the woman saw a man’s face staring back at her and ran out of the room.

London obviously has its scary haunts but nowhere beats Yorkshire for spooks and ghouls. Over the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to meet the great and good of the city. What’s struck me is how, after chatting about the economic boom that’s gripped the city, nearly everyone has a story to tell regarding York’s history, especially of a supernatural nature.

Executives at York Theatre Royal told me about The Grey Lady, one of the city’s most prolific ghosts, who’s been spotted throughout the city. The spirit, believed to be a young nun working at the medieval St Leonard’s Hospice, the crypt of which lies in the base of the theatre, was said to be bricked up alive in a wall of what’s now a dressing room behind the dress circle. Many actresses have asked to change rooms, believing they are being watched and complain that the area suddenly becomes freezing cold and a number of staff and theatre goers have spotted the spirit in the theatre and around York.

But tales of the most terrifying part of the city – Bedern off Goodramgate – once home to an orphanage-cum-workhouse called York Industrial Ragged School in the mid-19th century, told to me by a local historian would chill the hardest soul. Its cruel master was paid well to round up the city’s waifs and strays who were forced into hard labour but given minimal food and clothing. Many died of illness and malnutrition and rather than giving the children a proper burial, the school’s drunken head would throw the bodies into a big cupboard at the back of the school to rot.

Gradually declining into madness, the master became haunted by children’s voices. Finally, one horrific night, driven deranged by the constant voices he attacked all the remaining sleeping orphans with a knife, killing each one. Today, many people walking around Bedern around midnight have heard, and occasionally seen, children playing, surprised that they are allowed out so late at night.

Bedern is perhaps an area of York to avoid on October 31st if you’re of a fragile disposition, but if you survive Halloween then there’s always Bonfire Night to look forward to.

Lisa Byrne on her haunted family home in York

More from People

The Yorkshire landscape has inspired artists and writers for centuries and now the farmers who have sculpted the land are the subjects of an exhibition.

Read more
Yorkshire Dales
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The judging panel for the 2017 Forward Ladies National Awards, sponsored by HSBC, has now been named. Professional men and women, successful entrepreneurs and respected business heads will assess the regional finalists and select national winners.

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Despite a string of succesful TV hits, Kay Mellor has never been so nervous. Tony Greenway talks to her about Fat Friends in Leeds and the national tour.

Read more
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Market leading health supplement company are proud of their Yorkshire roots.

Read more
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Our columnist shares some spooky stories of ghostly goings on around York

Read more
Monday, October 30, 2017

New dad Tom finds his twin daughters are chips off the old block

Read more
Monday, October 9, 2017

Busy Bake Off star heads to the Flavours Food Festival in Elsecar and launches a new Christmas book.

Read more
Thursday, October 5, 2017

Take time out every day just to find a bit of peace, says our usually fast-living and fun-loving columnist

Read more
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A big, bold and funny version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice comes to York Theatre Royal this month, adapted by comedian of the moment, Sara Pascoe. Tony Greenway talks to her before rehearsals

Read more
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

While waiting for his twins to arrive, Tom gets one baby delivery he wasn’t prepared for

Read more
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Actor Reece Dinsdale accepts a couple of important Yorkshire appointments as the arts enter a new and exciting era. He talks to Tony Greenway.

Read more
Monday, September 25, 2017

Jimbo’s Fund helps to buy fire station for a local community

Read more
Leeds
Friday, September 15, 2017

Good day dear readers! I hope so far the summer has been abundant/not too bad/has actually started (delete as appropriate) in your part of the world. This month I bring two pieces of news, one good and one bad, so I’ll deal with both in turn.

Read more
Sheffield
Friday, September 15, 2017

Our columnist goes with the flow.

Read more
Canals
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory




Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Yorkshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Yorkshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Property Search